I'll never buy store bought chicken again

ellenhJune 3, 2008

My husband just built a much bigger chicken coop and we've been in the market for hens to add to our flock of 3. I found someone with about 13 baby chicks of various breeds to add. He was scheduled to pick them up about 1:00pm yesterday. By the time I got home from work, he not only got those 13 adorable baby chicks, he bought a rooster fromt the lady with the chicks and 26 additional older chickens (by older, I mean probably 2 months old as opposed to 2 weeks old) at $1 each from our neighbor.

Our neighbor got them from someone down south who was delivering them to a slaughter house somewhere in New Jersey. All 26 of these chickens were being transported in a cage that does not look like it could not hold more than 10 snugly. When I saw them I thought Oh My God, they are in AWFUL condition. Many are missing lots of feathers. One has almost no feathers. They are covered is some kind of dried brown gook and desperately need a bath. On some, the legs look like they are 3xs the size they should be. One has a badly deformed foot. One is missing part of its toe. Some have 3 toes, some have 4. The rooster he got looks so much better proportioned and elegant than these awkwardly shaped birds. They are not used to farm living. We had to put them into the coop for the night then they had no idea how to get out of the coop when we opened it in the morning. They ate like they had been starved for a week. The only good thing is that they are very docile. They were obviously raised in horrible conditions and are probably very in-bred. +

My husband was nice enough to let me eat my chicken nuggets before showing me the birds. I'll never look at store bought chicken the same way again. I'm not advocating not eating chicken but these birds look positively unhealthy - can't be healthy for us to eat either. I don't know if I could slaughter my own birds though. Maybe when they get bigger they will look less awkward. I can't wait to see them clean and fully feathered.


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If the meat chickens are Cornish Crosses, they don't have lots of feathers. Their legs have to be strong to carry all the weight they put on for the 6-8 weeks they are alive before slaughter. Cornish X's ALWAYS act like they are starving. They have been bred to be eating machines so they will put on plenty of weight by the time they are 8 weeks old. They are bred to have few feathers because it is easier to clean them commercially.

Yes, it is sad, but true. If you plan to raise chickens for meat and you don't choose the Cornish X's, you are going to be raising some very expensive meat and you might not like the taste.

If you are waiting for them to get fully feathered, you will wait a long time --- if they are more than 8 weeks old, they will probably die of heart attacks because their sweet little hearts are not going to be able to handle the weight.

That's life.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 5:38PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

carmen is right. They sound like textbook Cornish X. They need to have their feed rationed, you cannot leave the feed in front of them all the time.

If they were on their way to the slaughterhouse, they must be old enough to process--if you keep them alive much longer, their bodies will get too heavy for their legs to support and they will either go down on their hocks, or their legs will break. Because of this, it's cruel to keep Cornish Cross birds alive past their slaughter age.

The messy condition, poor feathering and jammed-together-like-sardines thing is VERY typical of Cornish X birds, that's how they are raised, and have been specifically bred by humans to be this way--lots of meat in the shortest amount of time. They ARE very sweet and docile birds. More info and pictures of the breed here:


Best thing to do for them is to continue their trip to the slaughterhouse.

Thank your fellow humans for creating these monsters. :(

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 7:28PM
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They also could be spent layers on their way to the soup can. Inbred they probably were not. Layers and heavy meat birds are actually an outcross of 2 to 4 different inbred lines which are superior at their task(more eggs or more meat) partially due to outcrossing). Spent layers can sometimes be a fair egg maker for a family but as mentioned by another poster, the heavy meat birds can only be kept with feed restriction, they just arent designed for a normal chicken life.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 10:38AM
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This is why I'm a vegetarian...I cannot stand the treatment and mishandling of all of the "meat" animals in factory farms..it deeply saddens me. I have no problem with real farms obviously because that's the way it should be and should have stayed...but I don't eat meat at all because of the huge discusting factory farms that don't realize that these animals are living creatures.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 4:03PM
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I've heard that it is 'cruel' to let cornish X's live beyond when they are supposed to be slaughtered, because they get a lot of leg problems and other issues due to their voracious appetites and stuff. :( I'd never grow them, sure they grow like crazy but I'm sure they aren't as nutritious.

Sort of gives you an idea why huge industrialized farming isn't a good thing, as well as breeding monster eating machines. :(

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 4:05PM
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I never knew about cornish Xs before. These are not spent layers, they are not very old, they don't seem to be fully grown. The deformities and oddly shaped bodies are very sad to see. My neighbor bought them to be egg layers and thinks they'll be fine. He has much more experience than us with chickens therefore my DH thinks that he is right. He and his wife have been raising chickens for years. I look at these Cornish Xs and get sad. I'm thinking of culling they ones that are the most deformed and keeping the healthier looking hens. They can live with my mixed breed, very pretty white rooster and probably breed much healthier babies. My younger baby chicks of various breeds seem so much healthier and adorable. I really only wanted about 12 hens, not 40. DH doesn't tend to do things in moderation.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 11:02PM
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Re: Cornish x's not doing well beyond 8 weeks or so... My dad raises chickens and delved into the Cornish X for a brief time; he had the same result-- if they weren't butchered close to 8 weeks, they died of heart attacks or had trouble standing not long after that. He ended up giving two of them to a friend of his, who left the chickens out of their coops every day to "free-range" over his multiple-acre property.

Well maybe it was the increased availability of exercise, but the Cornish X's my dad gave to him did NOT die-- in fact, they became like little (big?) dinosaur-bodybuilders roaming around this guy's property; they were freakishly gigantic, and quite healthy. Not sure exactly how long they lived but I know for sure it was at least a year or two.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 10:32AM
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The cornish X's we raised were allowed to free-range and they certainly did for the first three weeks of their lives. Once they got so heavy they just didn't venture far any more. We only fed them from morning till dusk and then took the food away. We even put their food far from the hoop house each morning so they would have to travel a bit for the feed.

Sad, sad, sad. We will never raise them again. It was very pitiful. If they aren't processed at 6-8 weeks, you are being cruel to them. They find it hard to walk after 8 weeks. Hate to tell you people, these we raised were raised on organic grain and pasture. They are the same breed raised commercially and sold to grocery stores and KFC.

It is called American chicken.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 8:22PM
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